The Bombay High Court, Nagpur bench in a recent matter of Sapna V. Pravin Ishwarbhai patel & Ors has held that “financial deprivation amounts to economic abuse under the Domestic Violence Act”. The HC in the matter observed that if a widow in a joint family, who is entitled to financial resources, is deprived of them then it qualifies as economic abuse.
The above observation came in the case filed by one Sapna Patel, A 38-year-old widow. The Husband of Sapna Lt. Mr. Nilesh Patel passed away on March 27, 2010. Nilesh was looking after the family business of Patel Mangal Karyalaya, a marriage hall, before his death which was his sole source of income. However, after the death of Nilesh his cousin brother Pravin Patel started looking after Patel Mangal Karyalaya which left Nilesh's widow Sapna with no source of income to claim due to which she filed an application under Section 12 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.
The case by Sapna was filed before the Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC), Gadchiroli who recorded the evidence of both the parties and directed respondents to restore the possession of Patel Mangal Karyalaya to the applicant Sapna Patel within a period of one month from the date of the order. The judgment of JMFC is now challenged by Pravin Patel who has argued before the court that Patel Mangal Karyalaya was constructed by Pravin himself and it was his own property. Therefore, it could not have been restored to Sapna and further argued that no 'domestic relationship' existed between Sapna and Praveen.
The Court however by rejecting the above contention of the Pravin has observed that he had lived together with Sapna as family members in a joint family and therefore there is a domestic relationship between them. Upon referring to clause (iv)(a) under Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act which says that deprivation of all or any economic or financial resources to which the aggrieved person is entitled under any law or custom is economic abuse on the basis of which the court held that “In the present case, the wife was having only source of income from Patel Mangal Karyalaya during the lifetime of her husband. After the death of her husband, Pravin Patel took over the possession of said Patel Mangal Karyalaya and deprived her from financial resources therefore, it amounts to economic abuse." Thus, the HC held that the judgment of JMFC, Gadhchiroli is valid and directed for providing possession of the said marriage hall to Sapna.